The Importance of CPAP Humidification

So what’s the big deal about using a CPAP humidifier? Why would you want to add another piece of equipment beyond the CPAP machine and mask? It’s just something else you have to buy, fill each night with water, clean, or add to your CPAP bag when you travel….why bother?

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How do you know if humidification is set too high and conversely if it is too low?

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Your airway needs humidity to function as intended. If you’re getting CPAP therapy through your nose for example, and the airway humidity drops below a certain threshold of around 30%, your nose will make its own moisture and you’ll get congested. If you have too much humidity you will get excess condensation (sometimes called rainout) in your tubing, mask and can cause you to awake at night. The key is to find that perfect balance where you get enough humidity to be comfortable and breath well, but not so much that it causes excess.

Another contributing factor in this, is ambient room temperature vs the temperature of the humidified air in the tubing. If there is a significant difference, it can cause condensation. There are many products such as heated tubing and insulated tubing covers that can help you minimize condensation and deliver the maximum humidity.


Here is a list of common complaints from CPAP users, do any of these sound familiar?

CPAP makes me sneeze
CPAP makes my mouth dry
CPAP makes my nasal passage burn and it disrupts my sleep
CPAP makes my nose runny
CPAP makes my nose stuffy so I can’t breathe I wake up with mucous in my mouth and throat Water drips into my mask at night
My humidifier water chamber is empty long before it’s time to wake up
The water chamber collects a residue that looks like mold and it’s hard to clean
My humidifier makes gurgling noises and spits water at me

Learn more

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That’s an interesting link… it talks about “It can also cause “rain out” which explains the wet mist on our face around the mask area. If this is happening to you, turn down the heat a notch or two” which might explain the skin rash on my face OUTSIDE of the contact area of my mask.It’s worth a try to reduce the humidifier temp which ranges from 0 to 5 on my machine… I run it at 5 all the time, and it varies greatly as to how much water it uses. It never goes empty even with 9 to 10 hours of sleep… comes close sometimes;and others, mysteriously, not low at all. The nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office attributes this to the humidity… in the air, not in the machine… the dermatologist prescribes different creams and lotions, and I’ve stopped using soap to wash the mask, and the rash, redness, is pretty constant. Yes. Tonight I turn down the humidifier. Thank you!

So how did that turning down the heat work for you?

it’s interesting that part of our challenge to find successful treatment has to do with using all 3 components properly…Machine, Mask, Humidifier

You can have the best machine with accurate settings and what you think is the perfect mask for you, yet when humidification is not just right it can blow everything.

I hope changing your humidification settings work well for you!

On the 0 to 5 scale I turned it down to three. I only woke for the bathroom twice, about 90 seconds each time, and slept very well otherwise. My AHI for the night was 2.5; possibly the lowest since using this machine. My face had little to no rash… a pimple near my nose; but, that’s probably another issue. I can’t help but believe to have found the problem. Woke up at 6, well rested… Actually looking forward to bedtime tonight. Thank you!

a week later, :grin: still working well?

Yes, A week later and still going well. I woke up with a 1.4 this morning. Had my 60 day appointment with the nurse practitioner who runs Kaiser’s sleep clinic and my 30 day AHI was 4.6. It was 6.9 60 days ago, so progress, as well as no rash on my face. Thanks for asking :smile:

If there’s water build up in hose then humidification is set too high. If you wake up with nose bleeds or nasal irritation it’s too low. :yum:

Well, its confirmed for me that cold weather is here. My water chamber is near empty or bone dry in the morning.

My bilevel pressure is high at 20 and so with humidification, that means I use more water regardless of the temperature in my sleeping environment.
With my bedroom now chilly at 65-68 degrees, my automatic heat setting is much higher and that too blows through the water capacity.

I use ClimateLine tubing and have 80% humidity setting

Anyone else have this challenge?

Night temps now below zero and my water chamber is dry well before wake up time. That means uncomfortable nasal dryness and I am now using OCEAN when it wakes me up at 3-4am. Ocean is a simple saline solution that you can buy over the counter at any pharmacy or drug store. I believe Walgreens has their own brand. Without using that I am sure I would be having nosebleeds. It’s a long time until spring and warmer weather.

Anyone else experiencing nasal dryness during this very cold winter despite using heated humidifiers?

The humidity today in San Diego is 76%. The water chamber in my CPAP with the heat set to 2 (0 to 5 scale) and there was virtually no water down from the fill line after 8 hours of sleep. No rash on my face for weeks now… I’m beginning to think this is going to work.

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Sounds like it IS working! Yeah YOU!
Thanks for the updates ~

I have always had it and notice a huge difference when I forget to fill it and it runs out during the middle of the night.

I definitely use the humidifier in the winter + a heated hose. This summer I tried going without the humidifier since the weather has been so warm and humid and the machine uses very little water. It seems to work OK, although I often have a lot of sneezing in the morning.

Hello all! I am a new cpap user (day 2) and i have chronic sinus issues. Had serious throat pain yesterday on one side (could have been allergies - I am in Wyoming). Last night, I kept the same settings and that was fine (throat thing from day before) but felt scratchy when talking and went away. Feel a little funky in my chest but have read that you can be sore from chest muscles working against the air. I have the Resmed Airsense 10 Autoset with pressure between 5 and 12. When I look at the unit the first night it was around 5. I feel it increase sometimes and then back down to the 5 level. I have a humidity level of 0-8 and had it at 4. Not sure if I should decrease it or not? Going to try the climateline air tubing tonight (ordered this) with the same settings. Thoughts?

Just wonder how effective the new ResMed AirMini is with its HumidX and HumidXPlus waterless humidification system. I am going a a trip to the desert and wondered how the HumidX can supply a pint a night I was using in my main machine.

I have been on CPAP for just under 2 years. Three times over the two years I have experienced a serious nasal passage burn with side effects. My nasal becomes so sensitive and irritating. Makes me constantly sneeze with big ah, ah, ah’s before the ah-choo. My nose runs like a faucet for at least a whole day, seriously runs all the time. One solution is to insert cotton so that I have use of two hands at the same time. I joined this forum today because of just this issue. No way I could work with constant sneezing. Today I’ve washed my hose, nose piece, filters, and water chamber. I plan to use CPAP again tonight but I hope tomorrow is better. If not, I’ll discontinue for a week. Maybe order new supplies for a fresh start.

Hi ZZtop, This is a commonly heard complaint…and while not every method of treatment is for every person, I tend to gravitate to anything natural for my “go-to” method. Neti pots have become a favorite among some sufferers. Have you spoken to your physician?